Christian, Muslim and Jewish community leaders will unite Sunday to promote religious and ethnic tolerance at the Islamic Center of Irving — the site of recent anti-Islam rallies.
Organizers of the Sunday event, “One Irving for Us All; Though Different Faiths, Lets Relate,” hope to elevate the national discussion on Muslim tolerance while strengthening the Irving community. The event will include a panel discussion on how faith leaders have been affected by encounters with people of different faiths. Organizers are also asking Irving residents to stand together against efforts to demonize Muslims.
The event is not open to the public.
“We feel very deeply for the Muslims of Irving, Texas, and everywhere else,” said Walter Ruby, Muslim-Jewish program director for the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding in New York City.
Members of the anti-Islam Bureau of American Islamic Relations have picketed outside the Islamic Center after the terrorist attacks in Paris last month. Peace activists have countered by rallying in support of the mosque.
It has been extremely frustrating to me and many residents of Irving that the anti-Muslim rhetoric of a relative few is giving our community a bad name.
The Rev. Sarah Almanza, Irving North Christian Church
The foundation and the Islamic Center of Irving are working with the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, a Washington-based umbrella body of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and interfaith organizations that fight islamophobia. Fifteen congregations and organizations will gather at the Islamic Center on Sunday for multifaith community-building discussion.
Now is the time for people of all faiths and no faiths to stand together and say ‘no’ to the stereotyping or demonization of any faith community.
The Rev. Dennis Webb, senior pastor Bear Creek Community Church
“We are pleased to throw open the doors of ICI to people of diverse faith background so that they can see for themselves the true, compassionate face of Islam,” Imam Zia Sheik of the Islamic Center said in a news release. “We believe this event will help Muslims in Irving to better connect with our fellow residents and make clear to them our desire to be good citizens of this city, state and nation.”
Sheik is one of several leaders who will speak. Others include Rabbi Frank Joseph of Irving Havurah and the Rev. Dennis Webb, senior pastor at Bear Creek Community Church and Irving mayor pro tem.
Although the discussion is closed to the public and media, participants will answer questions from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Kabash Grill, 2851 Esters Road in Irving.
The event is among more than 50 held in 20 countries during November and December to bring Jews, Muslims and Christians together.